This game is not exactly new. As in, it came out in October 2004... So, it's over 16 years old by now. And, as the title may tell those unfamiliar with the game, it focuses on the Roman empire, with the campaign beginning in 270 BC.
What a lot of people forget, is that almost 17 years ago, the Total War of today existed. Some features, like swapping settlements with your allies don't even exist in all modern strategy games, and the complexity of diplomacy, trade and even the process of how armies are raised are actually more advanced than the current games. However, the diplomacy interface has been improved and updated as well.
Creative Assembly has always been generous to their fans and community, and this Remaster is no exception. There is full mod support, and even if you don't have the two expansions, Barbarian Invasion and Alexander, that doesn't matter, you still get it for free. Oh, and its half price for the first month on Steam if you already own the original game. And, if you are a Linux or Mac user, you now also get a chance to try it, as only Windows users mattered back in 2004.
But, despite this being a remaster and not a remake, there are still a few changes that have been implemented, mostly in relation to overview and camera controls, this is especially handy in the battles, but also a mini-map has been introduced, which is really, really helpful. Now, actual cross platform multiplayer is possible (in fairness it was Windows only originally), and 16 new factions have been added, making it possible to play with 38 different factions. Perhaps that is a bit over the top, as there naturally are little difference between almost identical factions. And then to build on that, for a little more fun, a new agent type, the merchant, has been added, and they got their own summary/hub system.
I would like to stress that the updates are mostly visual updates. This means new assets, 4K resolution (which looks surprisingly good), new 3D models and units, support for modern monitors, and improved maps and battle environments. That does not mean that its now lush and full of detail like a Total War: Warhammer map or battlefield, but it is improved.
To me, the UI with icons and scaling has actually made a big difference, and the music sounds clear and modern. However, it also makes you realise that there isn't that big of a different between this game and A Total War Saga: Troy. Sure, both the campaign and battles are smoother and faster, but the old game in this version is almost just as nice to look at (emphasis on almost) and there is a lot more complexity in the gameplay itself. However, it does also make you realise how refined the gameplay and pacing has become, especially in regards to the overall management of settlements and army movement.
There are a lot of smaller improvements that you don't notice, like dust and heat effects, while I sometimes wonder how it was possible to live without modern displaying of units, and especially range markers. But, really I have come to appreciate the map rotation and free camera movement that we take for granted in these games.
It also makes me wonder how CA went from this clean, simple, but fully featured GUI, to the overly complicated, and to me, rather confusing interface in Three Kingdoms. I see a much more clear lineage to the Warhammer games than modern historic titles, and I wonder why all historic titles don't have options for playing purely historic events and battles like this old chap does. The number of variations of unit types is also still impressive, and makes you wonder how CA in some games are creative, but still historically accurate, with great unit variation, and then in others make very little difference between different unit types.
The Steam page says that 4K resolution depends on downloading an Enhanced Graphics Pack, that was not needed when I played, but that might be due to the fact that it was a special review version.
The game has aged well, it really has, but it is also hard to shake its age. While I struggle to understand why newer games have been stripped of more advanced insight, like what contributes and what negatively affects your public order in a region, Total War: Rome Remastered is a bit clunky, and annoying to watch your army take years to turn around on its heels to go off in a different direction (that can be skipped). But, there are so many small quality of life improvements in the new titles that I don't think I would recommend this as a starting title for new players, despite the gameplay being solid, and the immense improvement in the graphical quality.
While I love the in-depth management of an empire, the modern games still offer a better experience, smoother and more polished. They're still the optimal places to don your armour, pick up a javelin, and make yet another barbarian child fatherless. It doesn't mean that I don't enjoy slaughtering the uncivilised heathens on the battlefield, but this is more for those that miss the gameplay of the original rather than new players. But, as a remaster, CA has done a very good job on something that is less about making money, and perhaps more about showing the fans some love. Oh, and a final note: Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendam.
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